They are cute, cuddly, furry bunny rabbits! Yes! Now let’s probe deeper…
The House Rabbit Society has designated February as “Adopt a Rabbit” month. The rabbit has become the third most common pet to be surrendered to a humane society or rescue organization across the United States. The rabbit, which was for years classified as a farm animal raised for meat or fur, has escaped over the last twenty years into our homes. They have become loveable and enjoyable pets.
They are often promoted as a no maintenance pet. This is NOT true. If you don’t obtain veterinary care, most rabbits have a short life span. However, with proper veterinary care, many rabbits may live ten to twelve years.
House rabbits will develop dental problems because of the way they chew. Their side to side chewing action will cause development of molar points on their molars (back teeth). Most people recognize the large, visible incisors at the front of the mouth, but few recognize their molars in the back of the mouth.
Veterinarians who regularly care for rabbits are equipped with special instruments that allow visualization of the molars. The molars can develop very sharp ridges or “points” that will pierce the tongue or lacerate the cheek. The pain produced by these teeth while they try to eat causes them to eat less or not at all. These rabbits, if not properly identified, will lose weight gradually, then develop secondary infections that result in death. Rabbits should be checked for molar points every 6 months and anytime changes are observed in their eating habits. One may wonder why this isn’t a problem in wild rabbits. Their lifespan in the wild is about 2 years.
Other common problems that house rabbits may develop are respiratory disease, gastrointestinal disease, or eye problems. Rabbits, while they may be litter box trained, need to have special protective housing/area in our homes. The rabbit chews to keep its front incisors in shape. A chewer that is allowed uncontrolled access to our homes will chew the legs of our furniture and many other things. For example, they have been known to chew through electrical cords and other dangerous items. Therefore, it is imperative that rabbits have protection.
Rabbits may make great pets. Please make certain that you care for the rabbit properly and have the appropriate budget to show your support for their affection. Every household may not be suited for a sweet, furry bunny to come live under their roof.
If Rabbit Hemorrhagic Disease (RHD), a highly contagious disease introduced from Europe to the USA, continues to spread, then routine vaccination will become necessary.